After Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum threatened last month that Uber drivers caught operating in his city would face $500 fines, prompting Uber to file an injunction with the BC Supreme Court to stop them from doing so, a judge has now ruled in favour of Uber.
The decision also comes after McCallum said last month that while the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) approved the operation of Lyft and Uber in Metro Vancouver, “a business licence is required to operate in Surrey – or any other municipality.”
However, McCallum had also stated that he would not be issuing these business licences to either ride-hailing operator, citing “the unfair advantage that has been created without any regard as to how it will impact those who are employed in the taxi industry” as his reason for doing so.
In response to the mayor’s position, Uber’s Michael van Hemmen told Daily Hive in a statement that the company does “not believe there is any legal basis for drivers to be fined” by the City of Surrey.
And in a previous statement to Daily Hive, the BC Ministry of Transportation confirmed that while municipalities have the ability to require business licenses, this would contravene overriding provincial law that “restricts the authority of municipalities to regulate the supply and boundaries of taxis and ride hail services.”
When asked directly whether the City of Surrey could prevent ridehailing companies from operating, the Ministry responded it could not, adding that “the Board is responsible for the regulation of taxis and ride-hail vehicles.”
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On Friday, BC Supreme Court Judge Veronica Jackson agreed with this assertion, saying that the city has “been attempting to ride two horses at once” – requiring operators to have licences, but refusing to issue them.
Jackson ordered the city to stop its practice of fining Uber drivers within its boundaries, and said the city must also pay the court costs for Uber.
In response to the decision, the City of Surrey said it will abide by the court ruling, adding that “no further enforcement action will be taken in respect to the matters addressed by the court for ride-hailing in Surrey.”
For his part, McCallum said in a response that “it is time to move on,” and that the city “will work with TransLink on the Mayors’ Council’s motion on a Regional Business Licence to ensure a level playing field between ride-hailing and taxis.”